The Castlevania anime debuted on Netflix a few months ago, and it’s about time we got around to a review. The extremely short story for season 1 is based on the arc from Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse for the NES, and was written by Warren Ellis. Ellis is known for his work on Transmetropolitan, Red and has written multiple Marvel series in the past. The animations were produced by Frederator Studios and Powerhouse Animation Studio.
At the start of the show, Dracula falls in love and marries a human woman. Twenty long years pass until she is convicted of “witchcraft” by the church and burned at the stake for it. Of course, this doesn’t bode well with Dracula and he declares war on mankind. It is up to the reluctant Trevor Belmont to stop him and save humanity.
When playing the games as a kid, I remembered having this auto-association that Dracula was bad. The retelling of his story in the Netflix animation really helps to paint Dracula in a new light by highlighting his “human emotions” despite belonging to the realm of the dead. He becomes humanized, and we see this man who had the one thing he truly cared for taken from him, and it almost provides justified motives for him wanting to destroy the world.
I know if someone MURDERED my girlfriend for absolutely no reason, I would definitely consider summoning an army of the damned.
When reflecting on the gameplay, I always believed that Trevor Belmont was a vampire slayer because he felt it was his righteous duty. However, Trevor also felt humanized throughout the first season and almost came across as somewhat apathetic to the whole “slayer” business. He was a drunk, foolish man that does his duty even though most of the time he looks at the task as more of a chore and a bother, rather than the right thing to do.
While the games were phenomenal and have always had great replay value over the years, the added detail that season 1 provides is outstanding. The art is dark, gritty and gorgeous. The dark palette of colors used really set the mood of the series, and helps to provide context with just how dark the show is going to get, script-wise. Castlevania definitely isn’t intended for children as there are tons of blood, gore, and violence that doesn’t stop just because the show is animated. The over the top violence does become a bit overdone, but if you can sit through some of the more cringe moments, you will be rewarded for your loyalty with a solid, visually captivating story from a top-notch team.
The only disappointing factor was that Season 1 is 4 episodes long. It comes across as a long pilot episode, which may be a great start, but it doesn’t really sell confidence in a future for the series. For anyone who is a fan of the game, or even for newcomers to the franchise, Castlevania is a must watch for all.